Before I proceed with my three-part series on wire fraud and the U.S. News rankings, I want to elaborate on one of the points in my previous post. Specifically, are the fraud allegations against the Temple business school a one-off–an unusual or rare event like Halley’s Comet–or are these allegations just the tip of a more massive iceberg? More generally, how much of the annual higher-ed rankings published by U.S. News & World Report are based on fake data? By way of example, consider this NYT report titled “College Says It Exaggerated SAT Figures for Ratings.” In brief, Claremont McKenna College (CMC), a private institution in Southern California, admitted in 2012 to having submitted inflated SAT scores to U.S. News for years. If CMC, one of the most prestigious liberal arts colleges in the country, is guilty of sending doctored data to U.S. News, it makes me wonder what other places, besides Temple’s business school (allegedly), have succumbed to this temptation? In any case, even if most of the data used by U.S. News to compute its rankings are not fake (a big “if” given CMC’s 2012 confession), there are so many other ways of “gaming” those rankings. (Again, see here for a survey of the most serious problems with the U.S. News system.) This is a serious question because, as I explained in my previous post, if those rankings are not credible to begin with, maybe U.S. News itself is guilty of fraud writ large! Instead of bringing charges against a few college administrators, why don’t the Feds go after the Big Fish? I will explore that possibility in my next post …
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